Relief Sent to Herat Following Earthquakes

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Unnamed Min
IOM staff documenting the damage caused by the deadly earthquakes in Afghanistan. Photo: IOM/Marjan Wafa

Teams from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) are assisting thousands of people affected by the devastating magnitude 6.3 earthquake that struck 40 kilometers west of the city of Herat in western Afghanistan on Saturday claiming an estimated 1,300 lives.

The first of two dozen trucks loaded with family tents, blankets, clothing, tool kits for shelter repair and reconstruction, and other items to facilitate access to clean water dispatched from IOM warehouses across the country arrived within hours of the earthquake.

Doctors, nurses, midwives and mental health and psychosocial support counsellors carrying essential medical supplies and equipment have also been deployed to the affected areas.

“Our teams were on the ground four hours after the first earthquake, leading the interagency needs assessment,” said IOM Chief of Mission Maria Moita. “I went to one of the affected villages and witnessed the human tragedy and scale of the disaster. I was also impressed by the humanitarian response and the collective efforts that enabled the necessary aid to be brought in quickly.”

On Wednesday morning, another 6.3-magnitude earthquake struck 31 kilometers northwest of Herat. For the second time this week, local residents fled their homes; thousands like Farhad and his family are sleeping outdoors in tents or makeshift shelters made of blankets and tarpaulins.

“My house has been completely destroyed and since Sunday we’ve been living in a tent, said the 43-year-old father of three. “This morning, it felt like the ground was going to open up and swallow us up at any moment.”

An estimated 20,000 people have been directly impacted by earthquakes.

Humanitarian supplies have been distributed to 930 families in the affected area and in sites in Herat city hosting families who have been displaced by the disaster. The emergency aid provides immediate life-saving assistance, including shelter assistance, to more than 700 families whose homes were completely destroyed by the earthquakes.

IOM is working together with its partners to ensure safe access to clean water and to reduce the risk of diseases, which can be high after disasters. In the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, the Organization provided four ambulances to the regional hospital in Herat City to transport some of the more than 1,600 injured to the provincial hospital.

IOM Afghanistan is grateful for the support of its donors who enabled it to respond quickly to the earthquake, while recognizing the growing needs of the response in this volatile situation.

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